“power to the powerless.”

Be it resolved that we, as persons of faith in relationship with all of Creation, and in a privileged position of faith leadership within our society as members of the Franciscan Federation, are called to personal and communal reflection that leads to action to sustain our one planet Earth, so that all Creation may share in the generous gifts of Earth provided by our Creator and Sustainer God. Climate change, especially those changes caused by human ignorance, indifference and greed, calls us to be prophets of change-to act in prophetic ways to halt human-induced abuse of Earth’s resources that are given to be shared by all.  As followers of St. Francis of Assisi we are called to right relationship with our Sister Mother Earth, our home.

ppSM Francis Lewandowski was among the 27 honorees at the Franciscan Federation Banquet on Sunday evening.  This year’s honorees were sisters who reflect  the beauty and goodness of God through artistic expression–music, poetry, drawing, flower arrangements, etc., and who, with artistic expression, bring “power to the powerless.”

Sister Francis was chosen because, through her ministry, she disseminates pertinent information to community members and uses her gift of artistic expression as she designs program booklets for provincial and congregational chapters and assemblies, prepares and publishes cards, monographs, and books, and creates settings for major functions. She currently is coordinating a ministry of presence project in the city of Detroit. After visiting Felician missions in Kenya, Brazil and Haiti, Sister Francis created a photo display to foster awareness of the people, their living conditions and the challenges poverty poses for them. In Jacmel, Haiti, in 2013 and 2014, Sister Francis conducted week-long art classes for youth. The students self-organized into “The Felician Artists of Haiti” and continue to use what they have learned to produce art pieces, placemats, coasters and trays to sell,and are learning basic business practices they can use for future employment. This endeavor is one way to “bring power to the powerless” and hope for the future!

Advertisements

He sat quietly and unassumingly

by Manuel Casias

He sat quietly and unassumingly. Although he had a limited vocabulary, his shivers on one of the coldest days of the year spoke volumes.

A wandering little pilgrim at St. Felix Pantry in Rio Rancho, NM, named Juanito was cold, and the thin wind-breaker he was wearing was hardly sufficient enough to keep him warm. I just happened to walk by when I noticed him and immediately called out. “Who does this child belong to?” I asked. His mother, who spoke broken English, told me that he was her little boy. I did not ask if he had another coat at home; rather, I simply smiled and told her that a coat had just come in for little Juanito and we were waiting for him to come in and get it. Confused and surprised, Juanito’s mom said, with incredible humility, Gracias.

This story is not uncommon at St. Felix Pantry where clothing is also provided to many families in need. In fact, just as many families who get food weekly from the Pantry also receive much-needed clothing from the Pantry’s clothing bank. From my perspective, it is hard to imagine little Juanito and other children like him in our neighborhood being cold, especially if they live just down the street from the Pantry.

This event reminded me of one of New Mexico’s oldest stories about the Santo Nino De Atocha (the infant child of Prague, the wandering little pilgrim) who sits in an old historic pilgrimage site in Northern New Mexico. Throughout the years, people from all over this great state have brought the small statue of Jesus shoes, coats, and a variety of things to wear as he goes out into New Mexico’s countryside performing miracles nightly. In ministry, we often tell people to accept strangers as though they were friends. You never know when Jesus will pay a visit. Warm and smiling, the wandering little pilgrim Juanito is indeed a new friend of Felix.

Was it Jesus visiting the Pantry’s clothing bank, cold, shivering, and hoping that we would tend to his needs? We will never know. What we do know is that St. Felix Pantry reaches out to all of its neighbors, big and small, during their neediest moments.

For Juanito, he spent the rest of that day warm and well-fed as all children should during these cold winter days. This is the hope that St. Felix provides to individuals like Juanito and families in need throughout the neighborhoods it serves all year long. The miracle provided us this day was the assurance and confirmation that St. Felix Pantry continues to respond with compassion and the work we do every day has sacred purpose.
Annually, St. Felix Pantry makes clothing available to nearly 6,000 families whose households range from one member to several members where many of them are children. Just recently, St. Felix Pantry partnered with the Rio Rancho Baptist church, sending clothing to 60 families in Juarez, Mexico, which is approximately seven hours south of St. Felix pantry.
We serve a God without borders and boundaries. Some of the neighborhoods we serve are seven hours away.

25th Anniversary Celebration

Villa St. Francis in Milwaukee, WI, celebrated its 25th Anniversary on Saturday, June 20, with a reception in the main lobby to express gratitude to the Felician Sisters, community leaders, and family members of residents past and present.

Milwaukee Hot Club, a three-piece trio, entertained residents, families of past and present residents, and guests with their upbeat tempo.

Visitors included past administrators, board members, volunteers, and Felician Sisters, including SM Geralyn Mroczkowski, provincial councilor, and S Judith Marie Blizzard.  Approximately 170 people filled the lobby and garden area as the Villa St. Francis leadership team served an array of hand-crafted appetizers and beverages.

Each person received a commemorative coaster as a gift to signify the past 25 years of ministry to the elderly. A Eucharistic liturgy in the chapel with Father Tom Westhoven,  SCJ, completed the celebration.

Since opening its doors on June 20, 1990, Villa St. Francis has provided superior resident-focused care for the elderly. Lisa A. Richardson,  director of Marketing and Community Relations, said, “We will move forward to provide services to those in need for many years to come.”

To view a video of the Villa St. Francis 25th Anniversary Celebration, click here.

To view a gallery of photos from the Villa St. Francis 25th Anniversary Celebration, click here.

Service Week

The experience in Kingstree, SC, during the Service Week for the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School students from Coraopolis, PA, is twofold: helping their neighbors and simplifying their own lives.

The core values for ministry are also reversible: respect for human dignity to others and to self, solidarity with the poor while the poor have solidarity with those who have more, transformation of the children when someone pays attention to them and transformation in the volunteer, perhaps yet to be seen.

Reflecting on this, SM Susanne Dziedzic, cssf,yy remarked, “And so a variety of tasks, gestures, and activities to engage in with one another are planned on paper for the week, but the hands and hearts of the visiting volunteers make it life-giving.”

It’s All About Love

This summer, the Bishop Ahr High School Community had an opportunity to come together for a week of service.  The program, entitled AHR Service Week, was designed to provide students with an opportunity to participate in service outreach during the morning and then participate in programming and reflection each evening. The theme of the week was It’s All About Love, a call to continue the reflection on love begun with the school community during the Lenten season. Each day, the group worked on finding the answer to a different question on love…click here to view full article

Felician Center in Kingstree, SC,

Theresa Long, teacher, and Jeffrey Hulbert, teacher and mission integration coordinator at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School (OLSH) in Coraopolis, PA, traveled south with seven students to the Felician Center in Kingstree, SC, on Sunday, June 21.

SM Susanne Dziedzic, cssf SM Johnna Ciezobka, and  SM Jacqueline Benbenek, cssf of the Felician Center, along with SM Ruth Warejko, cssf from Buffalo, NY, as well as

SM Anthony Kubat, cssf and SM Catherine Ryzewicz, cssf from South Bend, IN, greeted the OLSH volunteers.

Sister Ruth Warejko, cssf will assist with the prayer and rituals of the week while Sister Anthony and Sister Catherine will please the palates of the volunteers with their delicious meals that will include a Southern staple, “pimento cheese sandwiches.” The group is lodging at Springbank Retreat Center (10 miles away) for the duration with all meals and activities taking place at the Felician Center.

Father Matthew Bulala, pastor, and Father Felix, a visitor from Tanzania, concelebrated the first morning liturgy and extended a blessing on the group for their week of service ahead. Orientation took place on Monday followed by serving at St. Philip Pantry in Lake City, SC, stocking the Felician Center food pantry, and tagging clothing for the Clothing Closet.

At far right: SM Catherine Ryzewicz and SM Anthony Kubat
feed the OLSH volunteers

The OLSH teens also spent time preparing for the Big Sister, Big Brother three-day mini-camp reviewing a Gospel story, for example, the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, and the Good Samaritan, that will be taught to children who usually attend the Learning Center. Jeff Hulbert
is the designated song leader of B-I-B-L-E to
the tune of the familiar B-I-N-G-O.

According to Sister Susanne, the first evening concluded with Sister Ruth and Sister Jackie leading a teenage-friendly reflection on Lazarus and the Rich Man. “Do you change the channel on your TV when you see an invitation to support a cause to help the poor? Have you engaged in other kinds of service to your sisters and brothers in need?” The volunteers shared their insights and look forward to the days ahead to respond even more.

We never know

If you have ever doubted that your life has had any impact on the lives of the persons around you, just read the following letter, left by a former employee of the kitchen staff at Our Lady of the Angels Convent in Enfield, CT.

It was left in the kneeler in chapel of SM Lawrence Lojko, local minister.

SM Julie Weckwerth, director of OLHP Mission Services, said, ” We never know just how deeply the interest we show in others, the sympathetic ear we lend, the compassion extended, can touch and transform people. The employee, Jeremy Millikin, had worked for the sisters for eight years. He just left recently to work for the U.S. Postal Service.

Dear Sister,

I would like to share with you my thoughts and gratitude from my years serving as a cook at the Felician Sisters.   

I started working here in 2007 with no cooking skills and no knowledge of what a “sister” is. I quickly learned cooking, a skill that I will proudly carry with me the rest of my life. When it comes to a sister, however, I must  admit they have far exceeded any preconceived notions of what I thought a sister was.

My original thought was that a sister is this closed off, nervous woman who feared the world and preached at any given moment. Boy, was I wrong . . . In my years working for, and alongside them, I have learned some beautiful truths. A sister is anything but closed off. She is hard-working, kind, and understanding; she keeps her mind open and keeps her heart open wider. She’ll talk to you about sports, politics, and even true crime television. She is charitable, compassionate, understanding, respectful, and above all, treats others the way they should be treated.  She is far from preachy; rather, she is positive and uplifting. She doesn’t fear the world; she embraces it and works hard to keep it moving in the right direction.

I did much of my growing here. I started at the age of 22. I was nervous and quite shy, to say the least. With help from the sisters and staff, I was able to grow and become a more confident, still partially quiet, yet better me. I could not be more thankful for what everyone has done to help me along my journey these past eight years. When I faced personal dilemmas, much of the Felician staff and its sisters were at my aid. I was given my first car from the residents and when it died and I couldn’t be home for most of my work weeks, the sisters provided me with a room to stay in so I could continue working. I learned culinary and was able to sharpen my skills through the comments and suggestions from the sisters and staff members. Overall, I became a better me solely because of my time here at the Felician Sisters.

I will certainly miss this place and all those who reside here  I was treated like family, something I hope I find down the road at other establishments. This place will always be a part of me and I will forever remember it with fond memories and love in my heart. I cannot thank you and everyone enough for all you have done. Please take care and keep up those values that make you shine so brightly.

Sincerely,